Marlon Stockinger and 'Slipstream': Racing on city streets
MANILA, Philippines - If you’re in Manila and heard the angry, insistent throb of a racecar engine, got a whiff of rubber scraping against asphalt, and saw a blur speed past you on the road, chances are you were at Bonifacio Global City last Saturday (August 31) afternoon.
Telco Globe organized an event entitled Slipstream that attracted racing fans for a unique and historic “celebration of speed.”
Certain streets in BGC were blocked off and became a race track for a day for the event’s highlight: an exhibition featuring Filipino-Swiss racecar driver Marlon Stockinger.
The 23-year-old suited up and took his Lotus World Series Racing Gravity Charouz Formula Renault 3.5 around the special race route, reaching speeds of up to 200 kilometers per hour. It was the first time a World Series racecar was ever driven that fast in the streets of Manila.
“It felt amazing,” Stockinger said during a break in the race. “I never expected in my life that I would be driving around the streets of Fort Bonifacio. It actually felt like a Grand Prix atmosphere. [The roads felt] like a proper racetrack. Of course it’s not the surface that we normally have, but some parts are quite smooth.”
“So I’m a homegrown talent, racing against other very good drivers here in the Philippines. That’s the reason I’m as good as I am today.”
Globe’s Chief Operating Advisor Peter Bithos revealed it was quite a monumental task to put the event together. “We had to make sure the track was safe. Up until a few days before we were asphalting and [smoothening out] the potholes.
We had to put barricades all throughout the course. We invested a lot on security also; there were guards every 5 meters throughout the track.”
Spectators baked under the midafternoon sun hoping to catch a glimpse of Stockinger driving his racecar. He did not disappoint. In addition to doing multiple laps around the racecourse, he showed off his drifting skills and made “donuts,” a maneuver that causes the tires to screech and emit smoke, which seemed to delight audiences even more.
After his last lap he ran out and high-fived spectators along the road.
As a member of Lotus F1 Team’s junior team drivers, Stockinger is one step closer to becoming the first Filipino to ever drive in Formula One. “I’m having a great time,” he said. “Usually when I race, I’m abroad, I’m in a different part of the world. I never have any of my races locally.
So what we’re basically trying to achieve is to bring the races here to the Philippines...so people can see that we have a Filipino driver at the last step of F1. We’re almost there, competing on a world-level.
I started with the go-karts in Carmona, and I took my talents and brought them to Europe. So I’m a homegrown talent, racing against other very good drivers here in the Philippines. That’s the reason I’m as good as I am today. It’s just about giving back to the motorsports community and making people understand what we’re doing and trying to achieve abroad and bringing it back to them.”
In addition to the exhibition race, there were other attractions and activities at the event, including a racecar simulator, interactive booths, exhibits of different car brands, and a speed challenge with partner merchants.
Due to some of the streets being blocked off from 12 noon to 5pm, there was significant traffic in the area around the time of the event, though Globe had earlier advised motorists of this. Netizens voiced out their concerns about the traffic issue before and during the event on social media, though a response followed promptly.
"BGC is not a race track. Go do your event some place else. You just ruined our weekend. Hindi niyo naman kami mababayaran sa oras na nawala sa 'min. (You can't pay for the time that we lost here.)," wrote one commenter on Facebook.
Another commenter wrote that "more events like this in the future would be good," but another commenter also noted that it would be best to hold it elsewhere and not in "a business hub like BGC where people are working on weekends."
The event was capped off by a concert featuring American dance punk band Chk Chk Chk, and local favorites UpDharmaDown, Yolanda Moon, Autotelic and DJ Joey Santos. – Rappler.com
Paul John Caña is the managing editor of Lifestyle Asia magazine and is a live music geek. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @pauljohncana